The chair of a Midland police authority has been summoned to Westminster for a grilling by ministers over plans to increase charges to council tax-payers by 13 per cent.
Police Minister Tony McNulty is to investigate Warwickshire Police Authority's plans for an inflation-busting rise in the police precept.
But the police authority says it needs a one-off major increase after dealing with high-profile investigations including the M40 biker killing and the Atherstone-on-Stour warehouse fire.
And it has blamed the collapse of plans to merge forces across the West Midlands region into a single massive police force, which would have saved costs.
Philip Blundell, the chair of the police authority, said it had to revise all its plans when the merger was scrapped. He said: "We have faced up to the very real issues of protecting people living and working in a small, independent police force area."
Mr Blundell said he had been summoned to meet Mr McNulty on April 2.
"The sense I am getting is that the Home Office wants to give us a chance to present our case and explain why we need this money. I don't think they have decided to cap us, but they have made it clear that it is an option."
The Government has indicated it is considering capping the increase, forcing the authority to re-think its budget. Warwickshire Police Authority plans to increase the police element of next year's council tax by 12.87 per cent, a total increase of £18.78 over the year for a Band D home.
The proposal has been fiercely opposed by local MP John Maples (Con Stratford), who says the police precept has risen by 40 per cent in just five years – far higher than inflation.
Mr Maples has led opposition to the planned increase, and has written to Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, asking her to intervene. He said: "Council tax-payers aren't receiving a 13 per cent increase in their salaries or pensions.
"We just can't afford this kind of increase, especially as the precept in Warwickshire has already gone up by 40 per cent."
Proposals to create a single police service to replace the four forces of West Midlands, West Mercia, Staffordshire and Warwickshire were drawn up in 2005. They were scrapped when Charles Clarke was replaced as Home Secretary by John Reid in 2006.
Mr Blundell, a former member of Warwickshire County Council and Rugby Borough Council, said: "We are still picking ourselves up after the debacle of the merger."
The service was increasing co-operation with larger forces such as West Midlands Police and Leicestershire Police in an attempt to achieve good value for money, he said.